Michael Wessel is a Democrat and a trade negotiator who was a big backer of the NAFTA and GATT deals two decades ago. But listen to him on the supersecret Trans-Pacific Partnership; he’s one of the few people actually to have read it.

Noting that President Obama has attacked those who criticized TPP for not knowing what they’re talking about, Wessel writes on Politico: “He’s right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design—anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents.”

Even U.S. Senators could be jailed for telling what they have read. What kind of dictatorship are we living in?

“I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you,” Wessel writes.

As I’ve noted before, this isn’t the nuclear launch codes. It’s a trade deal! Why can’t all of us see it?

Wessell: “I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.”

Probably like most Chronicles readers, I’m not exactly a fan of Sen. Warren. But give credit where it’s due. She’s right about this one.

More Wessel: “So-called ‘cleared advisors’ like me are prohibited from sharing publicly the criticisms we’ve lodged about specific proposals and approaches. The government has created a perfect Catch 22: The law prohibits us from talking about the specifics of what we’ve seen, allowing the president to criticize us for not being specific. Instead of simply admitting that he disagrees with me—and with many other cleared advisors—about the merits of the TPP, the president instead pretends that our specific, pointed criticisms don’t exist.

“What I can tell you is that the administration is being unfair to those who are raising proper questions about the harms the TPP would do. To the administration, everyone who questions their approach is branded as a protectionist—or worse—dishonest. They broadly criticize organized labor, despite the fact that unions have been the primary force in America pushing for strong rules to promote opportunity and jobs. And they dismiss individuals like me who believe that, first and foremost, a trade agreement should promote the interests of domestic producers and their employees.”
It’s the Republican-run U.S. Congress that’s going along with Democratic President Obama on this secret flim-flam against the American people.

Amusingly, Obama pledged from the beginning of his regime six years ago: “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” That’s still up on the White House website.

What’s not so amusing is that he, and his GOP accomplices in Congress, are getting away with the biggest economic flim-flam ever.